Macbeth – Greenwich Theatre

The production that is based on the line "If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well / It were done quickly"?

Shakespeare's shortest tragedy is cut still further in this adaptation: a cast of six (five men and one woman) take on (nearly) all the roles. As they don't change costume, this is sometimes a case of speed over clarity, as when the King becomes one of the witches simply by not leaving the stage between scenes. For no very obvious reason, the set of actors playing the witches even changes between their first and second appearance.

You probably do need to be familiar with the play to work out who someone is supposed to be at any point – when the actor who played Banquo a minute ago is present as one of the other nobles at the dinner attended by Banquo's ghost, for example – and it also suffers in comparison with the Shakespeare's Globe production last year. Anyone who saw that won't have forgotten the Porter opening the gate.. he's one of the things that's gone here, his performance taken away in a different way.

But it moves along quickly and if not always too well, then effectively enough. The lighting and sound design works well with the simple set (sheets supported by wooden beams, with three slits for entrances and exits), plus the violence is shown effectively without needing to resort to splatter effects.

The audience I saw it with included two school parties. One section laughed at some inappropriate moments, but the applause at the end was thunderous.


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